Massive star formation requires extreme temperatures, densities, shocks, and turbulent conditions. Such conditions are often found in super star clusters which are defined by their high luminosities over 2000000 Lsun, compact sizes of a few parsecs, young ages of 100000 yrs, and contain hundreds of very massive stars greater than 8 Msun. I am interested in using archival observations as well as proposing for my own observations on ground-based (ALMA, Magellan, Gemini South) and space-based (Herschel, Spitzer, Hubble, SOFIA, JWST) instruments to study the birthplace of extremely massive stars.
I am on the JWST MIRI team. MIRI is the Mid-InfraRed Instrument. My work involves testing and calibrating the Medium Resolution Spectrograph and IFU capabilities. I am also on the JWST GTO team and I will be using MIRI and NIRCam imaging and spectroscopic capabilities to study the N79 region of the Large Magellanic Cloud, which is host to a super star cluster candidate H72.97-69.39. Multi-band photometry with JWST of the N79 region will identify individual massive and low-mass young stellar objects in a crowded field. Infrared spectroscopy will reveal the youngest and most embedded young stellar objects with ice and silicate features, some of which are just a few thousand years old.
The instruments on JWST will have angular resolutions 10 times better than Spitzer and sensitivities over a hundred times better than current instruments. We will be able to study star formation at sub-parsec (0.05 parsec) scales in the Large Magellanic Cloud. High resolution interferometric, photometric, and spectroscopic data will be key to determining the formation process of super star clusters and the effect of the massive O stars on local and galaxy-wide scales.